SINGAPORE - A pair of drug traffickers who were originally scheduled to be hanged on Wednesday (Feb 16) were granted a respite by President Halimah Yacob, putting off their executions for an unstated length of time.
The stay came even as lawyers for Singaporean Roslan Bakar, 51, and Malaysian Pausi Jefridin, 37, filed a fresh court challenge against their death sentences after the Court of Appeal had dismissed two earlier last-ditch attempts in as many days. They were convicted in 2010.
The respite order was made under Article 22P(1) of the Constitution and Section 313(h) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Article 22P(1) states that the president may, on the advice of the Cabinet, grant to any convicted offender any reprieve or respite, either indefinitely or for such period as the president may think fit, of the execution of any sentence pronounced on the offender.
Section 313(h) provides that the president may, before the court's warrant for the death sentence is carried out, order a respite of the execution of the warrant and afterwards appoint some other time or other place for its execution.
The respite granted by President Halimah does not amount to a pardon.
Lawyers for Roslan and Pausi had filed two eleventh-hour court applications, one after another, to stave off their executions.
The first application, asking the Court of Appeal to review its 2018 decision to uphold the pair's death sentences, was dismissed on Tuesday.
The second application, to start judicial review proceedings to declare that the death sentences were unconstitutional, was dismissed on Wednesday.
In both bids, lawyer Charles Yeo contended that Roslan and Pausi were intellectually disabled.
After both last-ditch efforts failed, another of their lawyers, Ms Violet Netto, filed a third application.
This latest application sought a declaration that the manner in which the death penalty is administered in Singapore was unconstitutional.
It was scheduled to be heard on Thursday but was adjourned to Feb 28, after Ms Netto produced a medical certificate that she was unwell.
Roslan and Pausi were charged with trafficking in not less than 96.07g of heroin on June 14, 2008.
On April 22, 2010, after a 15-day trial, they were convicted and sentenced to the then mandatory death penalty.
Over the years, they have unsuccessfully challenged their death sentences.
In June 2016, they applied to be given life imprisonment, arguing that they were suffering from an abnormality of mind.
A defence psychiatrist had assessed Pausi's IQ to be 67, while another psychiatrist assessed that Roslan has borderline intelligence.
But in a judgment on Nov 13, 2017, the High Court found that the men's conduct and their own testimonies showed that they were "functioning in ways no different from people with higher IQ level in relation to the drug offences".
The court noted that Roslan was the central figure in the drug transaction who orchestrated its moving parts, while Pausi was able to deliver the drugs from outside Singapore and participated in the operation with little difficulty.